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Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

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matthewpiano's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

I've heard some amps which can provide the heft for a climax but which lose the textural fidelity and detail and I've also heard amps which maintain the textural and timbral detail but can't summon up the heft for large orchestral peaks.  The Yamaha A-S700 is in the latter camp as is the Arcam A18, whereas some NAD models I've heard sit in the first.  Getting an amp which strikes a good balance between the two isn't all that easy.

I noticed a reference to a 'clangorous' piano sound earlier.  Do bear in mind that this may be the tonal quality of the instrument used for the recording.  Some pianos can be very bright and aggressive and not all pianists or engineers give as much consideration to the tonal quality of the instrument chosen as you might think.  A beautifully prepared Steinway is a thing of beauty but there are some pretty rough sounding ones out there as well. If you want to hear a beautiful piano recorded really well sample Martin Roscoe's ongoing Beethoven Sonata cycle on the Deux-Elles label, recorded at Potton Hall.  These releases have some of the best recorded piano sound in the catalogue and the playing itself is absolutely wonderful.  

 

To the OP, there are some Arcam A85s on Ebay.  This would be a great buy as it has more dynamic capability than the A18 but retains the smaller amp's ability to communicate textural and timbral detail very convincingly.  It is a fine amplifier.

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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

To the OP, as you already have the Marantz CD player I would suggest looking at the amp as well. I would also think importantely about speakers - try Quad classic 11 or 12, Castle Knight or Boston Acoustics A26 for something different.

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the record spot's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

String quartets sounding shrill on hifi?  I will accede that some steroe gear can be brighter sounding and partnering too much of that together is probably a bad idea, but blanket statements like "hifi can't do string quartets" is off the pace I think.  No idea what CSE is expecting, or what gear he is using, but I'd be inclined to disagree with his views here.  

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CnoEvil's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

the record spot wrote:

String quartets sounding shrill on hifi?  I will accede that some steroe gear can be brighter sounding and partnering too much of that together is probably a bad idea, but blanket statements like "hifi can't do string quartets" is off the pace I think.  No idea what CSE is expecting, or what gear he is using, but I'd be inclined to disagree with his views here.  

The definition of "shrill" is as subjective as anything else in hifi.

I completely understand where CSE is coming from, as there are very few SS amps that (for me) completely capture the tonal magic of a violin....I usually find it comes across as a touch bright, sterile and unemotional. That doesn't mean I expect anyone to agree with me, or even that I'm right.....but I do completely understand what I like.

Amps that capture this can fall down playing other genres of music......which is why I was so pleased to find the amp that I own, as I have yet to find a type of music it can't handle.....all IMO of course.

 

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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

CnoEvil wrote:
there are very few SS amps that (for me) completely capture the tonal magic of a violin....I usually find it comes across as a touch bright, sterile and unemotional.

Sorry, but this is absurd ...IMHO, of course.  ohhh sure

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the record spot's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

I guess my own view leans towards it being less to do with the equipment and more to do with source recordings or subsequent transfers that are closer to the problem of sound quality.  I've no issues with how violins sound on my stereos, or indeed anything else, but I do have concerns with recording quality; less so, but not to their exclusion, with classical compared to rock.

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CnoEvil's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

Phileas wrote:

CnoEvil wrote:
there are very few SS amps that (for me) completely capture the tonal magic of a violin....I usually find it comes across as a touch bright, sterile and unemotional.

Sorry, but this is absurd ...IMHO, of course.  ohhh sure

Not if you are into valves or Class A.

Have you ever heard an Audio Note system; a Unison Research, Mastersound or Icon Audio Valve amp; or a MF AMS or Sugden Masterclass amp?

If this opinion is absurd, I suspect there are quite a few on here who share it.

 

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CnoEvil's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

the record spot wrote:

.......... but I do have concerns with recording quality; less so, but not to their exclusion, with classical compared to rock.

Agreed.

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floyd droid's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

CnoEvil wrote:

Not if you are into valves or Class A.

Have you ever heard an Audio Note system; a Unison Research, Mastersound or Icon Audio Valve amp; or a MF AMS or Sugden Masterclass amp?

If this opinion is absurd, I suspect there are quite a few on here who share it.

 

Cno , why waste finger tip skin mate. You are preaching on the wrong forum. Actually you wouldnt have to on any other forum. 

I know , you know , just let em get on with listening to thirty bobs worth of trannies .

 

Hee hee , Im oot. 

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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

CnoEvil wrote:

the record spot wrote:

.......... but I do have concerns with recording quality; less so, but not to their exclusion, with classical compared to rock.

Agreed.

Absolutely. Some classical recordings ain't that hot but in general, pop music is far more variable such as being too bright or suffering from severe amplitude distortion caused by too much compression. I do question the desire for wanting a "warm" sound as being anything other than wanting colouration though.

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CnoEvil's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

busb wrote:

Absolutely. Some classical recordings ain't that hot but in general, pop music is far more variable such as being too bright or suffering from severe amplitude distortion caused by too much compression. I do question the desire for wanting a "warm" sound as being anything other than wanting colouration though.

I would argue that removing crossover distortion brings a sound that suits my ear better......IMO it's a matter of choosing your poison. 

I think people forget that there is no "right and wrong" in hifi, as they are convinced that they are right, and everyone who takes a different view, is wrong.......I am talking very generally here.

 

 

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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

matthewpiano - thanks for the arcam  A85 suggestion, which I will certainly follow up.  Of the two groups of amp you mention, I would probably opt for the second & though it would be nice to have an amp that could do justice to (say) Tennstedt's live recording of Mahler 2, my priority is for chamber music, if I have to choose; not easy as you say. 

 

I am interested also in your comments about string quartet and piano performances: it was listening the Takacs Quartet's Decca 2001 recording of Beethoven's Op 59 no.1 that partly turned me against the Yamaha amp: wonderful playing but the 'brightness' of the upper registers of Edward Dusinberre's violin was not pleasant to hear, not something I could live with.   Op.59 no.2 - where there are more passages in the upper register of the first violin - was to my ears  better handled on my old Arcam Alpha 3 - 'better' here means with greater equanimity & balanced delivery, albeit with rather less clarity and immediacy.  

 

 I have read great things about the Takacs's Bartok set but I already have 3 sets of these quartets (Novak, Vegh and Keller Quartets); I find their playing of Schubert a bit, er, muscular, and prefer the Belcea of Amadeus Quartets in  this music.   Similarly with the piano: generally I prefer hear Schubert and Mozart  played on a Bosendorfer; the Steinway has to my ears a more imposing & commanding sound, more suited perhaps to Beethoven.   All a matter of taste I guess, and something for another thread.

 

I wonder btw why you do not recommend your Denon PMA720AE a a suitable amp?  Not good with the rest of my set-up maybe?

  Blackdawn - I've only just bought the speakers, so don't want to change them, and I was in contact with someone who said the Marantz 6004 amp had very similar qualities to the Yamaha AS500.

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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

Crossover distortion? Linkwitz-Riley or Butterworth? First or second order?

I lived with someone who was learning violin for a few years. The amp doesn't come into it, but the instrument does. One violin doesn't necessarily sound like another, and that's independent of the amp.

P.S The first few months were hell.

P.P.S Francophile, try a valve amp. Only really good for classical and jazz, but what they do well, no other amp can touch. Mind you, you have to wait while the bu**ers warm up for 20 minutes.

 

matthewpiano's picture
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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

Hi francophile.  I love the PMA720AE and I find it works really well across the full range of classical music, which is why I mentioned earlier that I really enjoy my system.  I'd say the Denon would be worth auditioning, but you'd have to see how it works within your system and your ears.  Your  Marantz CD player would be a good partner.  All any of us can do is give you a range of different suggestions.  You really need to try them for yourself.

It is nice to read somebody expressing a desire to hear recordings of something other than a Steinway.  As I said before, a really nicely prepared Steinway B and D can sound beautiful but there are so many other makes of piano with other qualities to offer out there and I'd love to hear more people recording on a range of pianos including those of Bosendorfer, Schimmel, Bechstein, Fazioli, Bluthner and Grotrian Steinweg.  Variety is interesting!

 

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RE: Budget repalcement amp for classical - advice please

altruistic.lemon wrote:

Crossover distortion? Linkwitz-Riley or Butterworth? First or second order?

I lived with someone who was learning violin for a few years. The amp doesn't come into it, but the instrument does. One violin doesn't necessarily sound like another, and that's independent of the amp.

P.S The first few months were hell.

P.P.S Francophile, try a valve amp. Only really good for classical and jazz, but what they do well, no other amp can touch. Mind you, you have to wait while the bu**ers warm up for 20 minutes.

The type of distortion that is avoided by Class A, which doesn't have to switch on and off their output transisters (as they are both on all the time) to make up the two halves of the 360 deg wave form. The downside is power wasted as heat.

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